The last of the three parties involved in the illegal open-air burning of toxic demolition materials from Northland College has been fined just over $15,000.
Lead contractor A-Line Construction pleaded guilty in the Environment Court to one charge of contravening the Resource Management Act by discharging contaminants to a farm nearby in April 2016 and August 2017.
Material including plywood, medium density fibreboard, treated timber, painted wood, chipboard, plastic, metals and coated wire were dumped and went up in smoke on Kaikohe farmer Jason Robert Bill's land.
The company responsible for disposing of the materials, Auckland-based Yakka Demolition, was last year fined $36,000 for both land and air discharges while Bill was ordered to pay $14,400 for permitting the discharge.
Bill claimed to have been approached about using his land for the disposal of untreated timber, and the court found there was no evidence he was aware of the actual contents of the waste.
But the court said Bill had a duty to ensure the demolition company stuck to a verbal agreement,
Yakka Demolition was a sub contractor in the redevelopment of Northland College, funded by the Ministry of Education to the tune of over $12m.
A-Line Construction, also Auckland-based, was recently fined $15,300 by Judge Jeff Smith who said although the company wasn't the principal offender, it was the lead contractor and was hence responsible for all activities that took place and materials removed from the site.
"That was clear from the ministry contract. You occupied the site and you were entitled to control persons who came on to and off the site, not only for health and safety reasons but for simple matters of security, ensuring that work was done in the proper order and that materials were not interfered with."
It was the company's first offence.
A-Line Construction said it spent a considerable amount of money to remove all the dumped materials— about 4.4 tonnes— and that it demonstrated remorse by co-operating immediately upon request.
Judge Smith agreed, saying the removal of the materials plus any potentially contaminated soil was a safety-first approach.